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Taking Ownership of A Desire for Greatness

In a June 2013 post on Live Science, Stephanie Pappas wrote about some parents wanting to live their lives through their kids.  One of the flaws to this mindset is that rarely do these teenagers share the same desire for greatness.  When potential is revealed, seen or witnessed, aspiring parents may encourage, nudge or push children into a specific activity, hobby or sport.  Thousands of dollars are shelled out per year for competitions, equipment, lessons and travel teams.  With the rising costs of higher education, a full ride is the only way some students will ever be able to attend college.  Thus, parents do whatever they can for a loved one.  The only question is do these potential stars share the same dreams and vision of their parents?

God thunders wondrously with his voice; he does great things that we cannot comprehend, Job 37:5.

You make a case for both sides of this argument.  For example, take Tiger Woods whose father Earl prepared Eldrick to become a golfing phenom as soon as he could walk.  Earl Woods used his military background to mentality test Tiger’s mind for every scenario on a golf course and in a tournament.  During Tiger’s prime, Woods was a machine, defying the experts with an epic run toward the greatest golfer of all time.  However, when Earl Woods died in May of 2006, Tiger’s amazing stretch slowed down after winning the 2008 United States Open, his last major title.  While injuries has played a part to his decline, perhaps Earl’s absence enabled Tiger to let his guard down, to lose his edge.  Whatever the reason, Tiger has altered his goals, enjoying playing golf again with a healthy body.

You will increase my greatness and comfort me again, Psalm 71:21.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Capriati is a good counter for the opposing side whose parents seemed to want success more than Jennifer at times.  This tennis star turned pro at age 13, winning 3 majors and a gold medal at the 1992 Olympic Games.  However, television displayed the emotion of a teenager taking center stage before fully maturing.  Between Jennifer’s initial success, her parent’s desire for greatness and becoming burned out at an early age for a professional athlete, Capriati’s full potential was never realized.  Like anyone I’m sure she would like to go back and do certain things differently, yet at some point rising stars need to take ownership of a parent’s desire for greatness.  If not, greatness will fizzle out sooner rather than later.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me, Philippians 4:13.

As a parent, I struggle with knowing when to push my children and when to walk away.  I believe every parent wants the best for their children, but selfish desires may interfere with your own ability to be a good parent.  During my fifteen years of coaching high school and youth sports, I found myself caring more than my players.  I take each defeat and loss personally, re-evaluating in my mind to see if I did everything in my power to set my players up for success.  In some circumstances, I was responsible for a loss, taking the blame.  However, I learned that if my kids don’t care, I need to rethink my priorities.  Am I too serious, not forceful enough or do I need to let go to see if someone takes ownership of a desire for greatness?  I still haven’t figured this out, but I am hopeful and prayerful that one day my children will develop a desire for greatness in this life.

by Jay Mankus



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